Health & Safety Gone Mad


I like the fact that in most parts of Europe, if you fall off things or get in the way of very large rapidly moving objects, Darwinism removes you from the equation and the gene pool is made slightly smarter by your absence.

Not so, of course, in England, where we all have to be treated as if we’re two years old. So these signs have sprung up where I live. What is the device that requires I operate ‘extreme caution’ when using? A threshing machine? A circular saw with no guard on it? Why no, it’s a door. It opens. It shuts. Potentially lethal, obviously. And the sign has appeared on all doors in our public areas.

Perhaps there will now be signs on everything. On oranges; ‘Please exercise extreme caution when peeling this fruit as juice may blind you.’ Or on civil servants, perhaps; ‘Please exercise extreme caution when listening to anything this person says, for they are idiots.’

13 comments on “Health & Safety Gone Mad”

  1. Andy says:

    Totally transparent ones yes, I see the point, we had to add tasteful faux-frosted glass adhesive designs to the ones in a museum where I used to work, but ordinary doors? Beware of the doors…

    Mind you, look what they did to Jim Morrison.

    And don’t talk to me about citrus fruit, goggles ARE required when eating grapefruit.

  2. Ben says:

    Totally agree with you, Christopher. All this ridiculous mollycoddling is like a massive two fingers thrust up at the natural process of evolution and crying, “We need our morons!” I’ll raise your oranges and suggest we should have warning labels on individual slices of bread. How else will people be alerted to the respiratory dangers inherent in stuffing them up their nostrils?

    Rob Grant’s novel ‘Incompetance’ (sic) wonderfully (and terrifyingly) predicts the end result of all this, which I recommend if you haven’t come across it.

  3. M@ says:

    Have you been to the British Library lately? The forecourt near the entrance is absolutely plastered with signs warning you about the steps. I almost fell down said steps upon being distracted by all the signs.

  4. Gretta says:

    I don’t think it is fear so much that people will get hurt, or even blatant Wowserism from the Jobsworths, I think it’s a fear of being on the wrong end of legal proceedings. Litigation is the new drug/weapon of choice. So I’d say more the businesses and Councils protecting themselves from the general public, rather than the other way around.

    PS: Never mind oranges and grapefruit, try corn on the cob, which spits fluid like a camel with a grudge!

  5. Ah yes, the nanny state is here in all its glory. We have official government signs at work instructing us on how to wash our hands. Not advising us TO wash them mind you, the way they do in hospitals etc, but HOW to actually wash them. I couldn’t find the sign online (should snap a photo of it and send it in) but here’s a similar one from the Victorian government.

  6. Yeah, speaking as a civil servant, I’m okay with your hanging a sign on me if, as a member of the public, you agree to wear one too. The staggering number of idiots one has to deal with, in a polite and helpful way, you just couldn’t believe.

    I know I don’t, and after so long, I should be used to it.

  7. I.A.M. says:

    In a very previous incarnation, I too was a Civil Servant, and can attest to a goodly portion of both lower and upper echelon people requiring signs saying “caution: likely to be as thick as a post” on both sides of matter, including the public. Let’s face it: folks are daft. The real question is, should they be protected from their own lack of thinking prowess?

    A friend of mine interned in a lawyer’s office in Germany at one point and daily walked through a construction site to get to work. This was permitted with the approach “if you’re stupid enough to walk through here while we’re working, then don’t come crying to me when you’re hit in the head with a dropped hammer.”

    Meanwhile, I watch BBC Breakfast whilst in the UK and wonder “what’s so dangerous about film of people’s cameras flashing that I need to be warned about it in the coverage of some gala premiére?” Additionally, why am I presumed to be so dim that being shown film of people walking along a public street will make me think I’m being shown the people identified in the text of the news piece? Showing me film of people walking along the street with their faces all blurred out makes we think “gracious, something gone wrong with their camera, that’s certain.”

    Why not try talking UP to people for a change, eh?

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Gretta’s right about the motivation, I’m sure, but I really don’t see what the problem is with that door unless it snaps closed when you let go? Now,imagine a gravel pit – you know, steep unstable sides, water filled hole at bottom. Around the pit is a tall wire fence with barbed wire on the top. Every ten feet there is a sign warning DANGER no trespassing. Zoom to 10 year old boy with bike. He climbs fence, falls somewhere inside, is rescued, but is now a paraplegic. His parents sued the municipality that owned the pit and WON. That was over 30 years ago.

  9. Gretta says:

    re Helen’s post, I remember a number of years ago a woman left Pop Tarts in her toaster while she went to take her kids to school(or somesuch)and proceeded to burn her house to the ground. She sued both the makers of the Pop Tarts and Black and Decker(makers of the toaster), despite both saying not to leave toasters unattended when in use. IIRC, she was also successful. How do they win these cases?

    Oh, and then there was the guy in Port MacQuarrie(I think) who whinged like a great big whingey thing because he drank eight tins of Red Bull in five hours and had a heart attack. It was all Red Bull’s fault for not warning him of the risks, he said, but later the press caught him out and he confessed he ‘did’ know that the recommended daily was two tins, and that he knew this because he’d read it on the tin. *rolls eyes*

    For some people, a Darwin Award just wouldn’t do them justice.

  10. Steve says:

    Oh, England has nothing on the USA when it comes to stupid warnings. Nanny COUNTRY is what WE have. Check this out:

    Especially this one: “6PCS Precision screwdriver set not to be inserted into PENIS”

    Damn! There goes my Saturday night diversion!

  11. It gets worse though. How about the criminals who sue their victims for failing to provide adequate warnings and signage?

    How about the burglar on the roof who fell through a skylight then sued the home owners for not installing one strong enough to support his weight?

    Or the father who woke in the night to his daughter’s screams as an intruder tried to rape her, and when he hit the rapist over the head with a golf club was sued for using excessive force?

    Or my favourite, the man who became locked in the adjoining garage of a house he was robbing while the owners were on holiday. He managed to survive on a store of dog food and water until the owners got back, and then successfully sued them for not keeping an adequate supply of food and drink in their garage.

    But this one from the Daily Mail surely takes the cake.–discriminates-unreliable-applicants.html

  12. I.A.M. says:

    I wonder what would happen if Admin approached the sign on the door (which I pretty sure I’ve walked through twice and not been damaged in any way either time), grasped it firmly in both hands, tore it from the surface of the thing, then turned around, and skimmed it over the paving stones into the canal? Certainly, a small mark might be left on the wood surface, but it would be absolutely fun doing it. Alternately, perhaps we could all walk about with large felt pens and simply write “NO!” on signs like this. Given the increasing number of them, we might get the economy going again having to constant replacement.

  13. Helen Martin says:

    My husband is sending the silly notices to his technical writing instructor. They are what results from the legal department writing such things, although I am not sure about the French language garment tag.

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